Today is the day! We are officially on our way to our new home; Waterford! I cannot believe it was this time last week that we landed in Ireland. The past 7 days have been some of the busiest in my life.
Wednesday morning, the first day in Ireland, was spent mostly in the Sport Changes Life (SCL) offices in Belfast. I was one of the first to arrive and we had to wait for all the Victory Scholars. Having taken different flights, they all slowly trickled in. One group had trouble getting through customs but fortunately made it without too much of a hassle. After a couple hours, everyone finally made it! We then jumped right into our meetings and trainings. We learned about how to plan and budget and then they took us to Tesco (common grocery store here) to put us to the test. We were split up into 4 groups and each group was given 80£ to buy groceries for making breakfast every day and dinner for two nights. That was definitely a challenge; having 5 people and 5 different opinions trying to agree on food for a week. But we made it work! When we got to the register, my group was sweating bullets hoping we stayed within the budget. It ended up being 80£ and some change which SCL kindly helped us out with. We definitely felt very accomplished. We then dropped off our groceries and luggage at the University of Ulster dorms where we would be staying for the week and then had training on “How to be Inspirational”. It was 8:30pm (20:30 as they use in Ireland) by the time we were done for the day. We all were so exhausted from the trip and long day but still found the energy to walk down to the shoreline across from our dorms and just take it all in. The view was really beautiful and worth it. Shortly after, we all made our way to our rooms and I can’t speak for all the others but I definitely passed out asleep as soon as my body got into bed. Day 1 was complete. The next 7 days we woke up and started our days at 8:00am and didn’t finish until 9:00pm (21:00). We had so many training sessions on coaching and preparing us for what was to come in the near future. It was a lot packed in to a short amount of time but it was definitely beneficial. We did make the most out of every moment. Being around people every day for pretty much the entire day definitely brings them closer together. I felt like I had known my fellow Victory Scholars for months instead of just the 10 days since we officially met. I had never met so many truly incredible human beings all in one place.
Some other notable events during this last week was our hike at Cave Hill, our tour of Belfast and seeing the Peace Wall, and of course meeting and having biscuits and tea with the Mayor of Belfast!
Having just come from the beautiful city of Ogden, Utah, I was familiar with hiking so the hike at Cave Hill was an awesome experience for me. I had never seen so much green in my life. When we reached the top, the view was unbelievable! It literally made me feel like I was standing on top of the world. We hiked back down and on our drive back to the dorms, we stopped for food at McDonald’s. Haha yes, we do have that here and yes, I absolutely enjoyed it. It was so fresh!
Moving forward, our tour of Belfast was something I’ll never forget. The Peace Wall is quite the historic place to see and I learned about the war between the Protestants and Catholics. I must’ve signed my name at least 10 times in all different places.
Our last major event was with the Mayor of Belfast this morning. We arrived at City Hall and it looked just like a castle. We had biscuits (cookies) and tea and talked with him about a lot of different things. It was an honor. We then took pictures all together and headed back to the SCL offices.
When we got back, it was time to say our goodbyes. Me and DaLacy (the Victory Scholar also placed in Waterford) were the first to leave. I did not realize how hard it would be to leave these people! We really had become so close and like a family so it was definitely a bittersweet moment. And now here I am, in the van with Aimee and Lace, driving to my home for the next 9 months. I have no idea what to expect, but I know that I am ready to embrace the journey. It’s already changed me in ways and made me grow as an individual. To Waterford we go…